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Murder the ultimate risk in Phuket land. Did it trigger the temple murders?

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Murder the ultimate risk in Phuket land. Did it trigger the temple murders? | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Murder the ultimate risk in Phuket land deals. Did it trigger the temple murders?

The significance of the armed attack by six gunmen at Suwanpadit temple in Surat Thani last Sunday is not lost on Phuket people.

The men, armed with pistols, entered the temple and opened fire on Songwut Noppakhun, an official serving with the Surat Thani Provincial Administrative Organization (OrBorJor).

Mr Songwut died at the scene and five-year-old Pornicha Thammasangwan died en route to hospital after being hit by a stray bullet.

Beyond the outrage over the deaths, injuries and the venue of the massacre, the call for weapons checks at temple entrances on major Buddhist holidays is a development that almost no-one wants.

But the call is likely to have little effect. “Honor among thieves” is rare enough, never mind “honor among killers”.

And Chalong Police Superintendent Wichit Intorrasorn has told the Phuket Gazette that police checks at temple fairs always result in weapons being seized, meaning that the checks do not act as a deterrent.

More relevant for Phuket was that Mr Songwut knew someone was coming for him. The rapid return fire of his armed “assistants” makes that a dead giveaway.

But the question remains as to why the assassination was ordered. What was Mr Songwut involved in – or what did he refuse to be involved in – that triggered the killing?

Here, speculation is rife, but police suggest the usual “business dispute” as the cause. And in Phuket “business dispute”, more often than not, means that coveted commodity, ‘land’.

Police would certainly impress this newspaper if they managed to apprehend all the killers, unless the assassins were among the 11 injured. (It’s not difficult to arrest patients in hospitals.)

Even in the case of the 2003 murder of Pongtorn Hiranyaburana, the man appointed to lead the Thaksin-ordered investigation into “suspect land titles” in Phuket, the police have failed to bring the killers to justice.

That said, the hit squad assigned to Mr Pongtorn’s demise seemed a touch more professional. They shot him while he was driving home from Phuket to Surat Thani to see his wife and children. They didn’t wait for the car to stop en route; they nailed a moving target.

Run-of-the-mill intimidation and standover tactics are pretty much considered part of the territory in provincial Thailand.

Indeed, it would be interesting to know if anyone in business in Phuket for more than five years has not been threatened, intimidated or asked, expressly or implicitly, for a bribe or ‘tea money’, the latter being a giggle term for a series of regularly scheduled bribes, usually at month-end.

Here in the boondocks, this is just business as usual – unless, of course, it spills over onto temple grounds.

Heaven help anyone who stands between an unscrupulous man and more money than he has ever seen in his life, even if the sum might appear unimposing to some of our readers.



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Phuket

Slow loris released back into Phuket forest

The Thaiger

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Slow loris released back into Phuket forest | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Department of National Parks

Officers from of the Khao Phra Thaeo Non-Hunting Area have helped in the release of a slow loris back into the wild yesterday.

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation reports that the head of Khao Phra Thaeo Non-Hunting Area, Pongchart Chueahom, yesterday released the slow loris to the Khao Phra Thaeo Non-Hunting Are in Thalang.

The slow loris was found near a furniture factory in Thalang last week. It was being treated at a pet hospital before being handed over to Khun Pongchart when it was ready to be set free.

Slow loris released back into Phuket forest | News by The Thaiger Slow loris released back into Phuket forest | News by The Thaiger

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Phuket

Seastead structure dragged back to shore by Royal Thai Navy

The Thaiger

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Seastead structure dragged back to shore by Royal Thai Navy | The Thaiger

A floating seastead has today been towed by a naval vessel back to the Port of Phuket in Cape Panwa. Meanwhile the Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam is challenging the owners and builders of the structure to take the Thai Government and Navy to the International Court of Justice.

The Royal Thai Navy’s Third Fleet ventured out with a group of reporters on Saturday to inspect the floating seastead, the first of about 20 planned Ocean Builders for the open waters about 22km from Phuket’s Koh Racha Yai.

Nothing valuable was found on board the octagon-shaped steel and aluminium structure which was attached to a floating platform.

Two vessels were used in today’s operation. The living quarters were detached and placed on the first vessel and the second towed the floating platform to the shore for safe keeping pending legal action against its owner as well as the builder, Ocean Builders Company.

Dr. Wissanu said yesterday that Thai authorities were authorised to remove or dismantle the floating housing unit with or without the consent of its owner after finding the structure could pose a threat to Thai national security and sovereignty in accordance with Article 119 of the Criminal Code.

He said that the structure also posed an obstacle to vessels and was located not far from an oil rig.

Regarding the threat by Ocean Builders Company to sue the Thai government in the International Court of Justice for the removal, the deputy PM says he welcomes the move, noting that no government anywhere would allow a seastead settlement near their maritime territory.

Seasteader Chad Andrew Edwartowski and his Thai wife, Mrs. Nadia Summergirl, are wanted by the Thai police for questioning after Thai immigration revoked the American’s non-immigrant visa and blacklisted him.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Phuket

Phuket taxi slams into tree in Phattalung

The Thaiger

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Phuket taxi slams into tree in Phattalung | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phattalung Rescue

Two people have sustained serious injuries after a Phuket taxi slammed into a tree in Phattalung last night.

Phattalung rescue workers were notified of the accident in Mueang Pattalung District at 7.57pm last night (Sunday).

They arrived at the scene to find the Phuket registered taxi resting in front of the big tree on the side of the road near a temple. The front of the vehicle had extensive damage following the collision.

The two people who sustained serious injuries were 58 year old Wanchai Srithong and 64 year old Jamras Srithong. They were both taken to the Phattalung Hospital.

Pattalung City Police are continuing their investigation. There has been no explanation given at this stage as to why a Phuket taxi was in Phattalung.

Phuket taxi slams into tree in Phattalung | News by The Thaiger Phuket taxi slams into tree in Phattalung | News by The Thaiger

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